On the last day at Miracle Corners, we taught the students how to jump in a game of hopscotch, play ring around the rosy and London Bridge. I'm always interested in thinking about the origins of some of these games - not just in teaching them to students in other countries, but also how they're so very widespread at home and where they came from. It is believed that Ring Around the Rosy originated as a children's song about the plague in England. Ashes or ah-choo, depending on what country you're in signifies either ashes (ashes to ashes, dust to dust) or sneezing associated with being sick. And "we all fall down" is just what happened when everyone (pretty much when the plague was involved) died.
London Bridge likewise has a sombering tone.
Meaning and origin
The meaning of the rhyme is not certain. Most likely, it relates to the many difficulties experienced in bridging the River Thames: London's earlier bridges did indeed "wash away" before a bridge built of "stone so strong" was constructed. One theory of the "fair lady" who has been "locked away" refers to an old practice of burying a dead virgin in the foundations of the bridge to ensure its strength through magical means. Another theory was the people building the bridge were afraid the water spirits would not approve of a bridge being built, as it was invading their territory. To prevent an invasion from the water spirits, they made human sacrifices to the water spirits. This usually meant killing a child and burying it in the bridge. The more plausible reference of the fair lady was to Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. However, the rhyme is not confined to the UK and variants exist in many other western and central European countries.Nice... nonetheless, fun was had by all!